Top US Prosecutor Fired After Refusing White House Order to Quit
Fishman's office oversaw the successful prosecutions of three Christie allies in connection with so-called "Bridgegate" scandal over 2013's politically motivated access lane closures at the George Washington Bridge.
And while questions remained about whether Trump asked Bharara to stay on when they met at Trump Tower during the transition, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer dismissed them.
Gov. Chris Christie called "all this moaning and complaining" by two of the region's prominent USA attorneys "ridiculous", after they were ordered out of their posts by President Trump. Staff and colleagues lined up on the stairs outside the Southern District of New York (SDNY) office in lower Manhattan to bid farewell to Bharara, according to a CNBC Now video.
Preet Bharara, 48, revealed his firing Saturday on his personal Twitter account. But he questioned why Trump had suddenly changed his mind on keeping Bharara.
"I did not resign".
The next day, the Trump administration fired Bharara as he had not tendered his resignation as demanded of him and 45 other USA attorneys appointed by President Barack Obama.
"I agreed to stay on", Bharara had said after the meeting with Trump, noting that Trump's designee to be U.S. Attorney General had asked him to stay put as well.
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON The Trump administration's firing of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara sent shockwaves through NY, but veterans of the high-profile office expect a longstanding mission of cracking down on political corruption and Wall Street wrongdoing to remain intact. "One hallmark of justice is absolute independence, and that was my touchstone every day that I served".
After he announced his firing in a tweet on Saturday, deputy Joon Kim took over as acting U.S. Attorney and sent out an email to staff saying the office's work would continue, aides said. "By asking for the immediate resignation of every remaining U.S. Attorney before their replacements have been confirmed or even nominated, the president is interrupting ongoing cases and investigations and hindering the administration of justice", Schumer said in a statement on Facebook. However, since the caller from the President's office had not specified what the president wanted to discuss, they concluded that it would be appropriate to not return the call. They had been appointed by former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and "they received notice" by the electorate that they would not keep their positions much longer.
Sessions' decision to include Bharara's name on the list of 46 resignations of holdovers from the Obama administration surprised Manhattan prosecutors. Sessions lost his position as US attorney for the Southern District of Alabama in a similar sweep by then-Attorney General Janet Reno in 1993.
"Generations of SDNY prosecutors have been told that their job is to do the right thing, for the right reasons, every day, in every case", he said, using the acronym for the office, the Southern District of NY.
Trump himself did apparently make an attempt to speak with Bharara in advance of the Friday demand for resignations. Obama was elected president six years later, in November 2008. But he became the face of the crackdown, landing on the cover of Time magazine in 2012 with the headline "This man is busting Wall St".
Several New York elected officials-among them Republicans-had jumped to Bharara's defense following the White House demand that he step down, praising him for refusing to do so.